Regulating money spent on politics eventually has to mean regulating time and effort spent on politics.
We’ve already seen some of that, haven’t we? Bloggers or other private citizens whose support of a candidate or issue might “run afoul” of campaign finance laws, because of the perceived value of their support?
I’m sure I read something about that. I’ll do some research later.
Anyway, that is the end result of campaign finance laws. Not just dollars spent, but value spent.
The big hair that needs splitting: the difference between issue advocacy – which normal people call “voicing an opinion” – and electioneering.
According to the law, there’s a big difference between supporting an issue, and supporting a candidate who is supporting that issue.
And since we are going to split that hair – supporting an issue is okay, but supporting a candidate means you’re breaking the rules – somebody has to wield the knife.
Don’t Install the IRS as the Nation’s Political Speech Regulator
Well, duh. It’s kind of amazing that we even have to say that.
Of course, the next question is: who should we install as the nation’s “political speech regulator?” If we’re going to regulate speech, which we’ve apparently decided to do, then somebody has to enforce it.
Who shall it be?
And, just let me warn you: no matter who it is, they’ll be in the control of the reigning political party, whichever party that is.
UPDATE – maybe I should just quickly note two possible “solutions” that I like.
- “Solution” #1: liberalize campaign finance laws, making money easier for candidates to get and spend, thus reducing the value of campaign contributions.
- “Solution” #2: reduce the power of government to screw around with our businesses and lives, thus reducing the incentive to spend vast amounts of money on political candidates.
I use the quote marks because, since government will always have power, it will always attract both money and corruption. There is no “solution” to that. If your “solution” is to limit my freedom to engage in politics, then you are giving more power to the government, which will attract even more money and corruption.